If you’re a movie or television fan, you’ve probably noticed a degradation in the quality of entertainment being released by Hollywood. In addition, you may also notice the thrashing of canon for beloved franchises like Star Trek and Star Wars.
I’ve been here a little longer, so I’ve seen this degradation over a longer period of time than most. Even with cable, Amazon Prime and Netflix, I’m still starved for real quality content. There is some, but not much.
Recently, I’ve been browsing the offerings from Amazon and Netflix. And I’ve noticed a lot of westerns, movies from back when I was a kid and before.
For those non-geezers out there, the 1950s and 1960s were the heyday for westerns. There was a fair amount of western movie fare, but there was a bumper crop of TV westers. Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Big Valley, The Rifleman, etc.
Anyway, I was never a big fan of westerns. They were okay, and I liked watching them. But science fiction was more my speed. But I hadn’t watched one of these movies in years. And I have an hour or two to kill.
So I watched a western. And of course, Amazon recommended another few afterward. So I indulged. And the more I watched, the more I realized that these films were better made than the average film of today. The scripts were better. The acting was better. Of course, the scenery was often breathtaking.
Of course, there were dramas made around the same time. A lot of these are okay, but many aren’t. The science fiction of the 50s and 60s is mostly pitiful, with a few exceptions. I always enjoyed the war movies, and particularly the submarine movies from the 40s and 50s.
But it occurred to me that westerns have a formula, unlike dramas, where you can do almost anything, and science fiction, which veers even further from formula. Western stories proceed in a certain way. They have heroes, real ones, and true villans. They feel a certain way. Although in many ways there is a lot of sameness in westerns, each story is satisfying, if the filmmakers did their job properly. And usually they did.
I don’t suppose westerns are the best fare from that period of the 40s through the 60s. But I hadn’t watched one in decades, and was delighted by the quality.
You might try it some time.